You don't often see games trying to capture the essence of what made Zelda II: The Adventure of Link special. Here we have the console version of last year's Finding Teddy 2 which does a decent job of following in Zelda II's footsteps, but is it any good?
Chronicles of Teddy: Harmony of Exidus puts you in control of a girl who loses her teddy bear in a mysterious world. You're basically dropped off in the middle of it with no instructions so it's up to you to figure out how to traverse this new land with nothing but your wits. Visually, everything looks fantastic with pixel-perfect and well animated characters as well as detailed environments. You'll trek through forests, underground caves, winter wonderlands, and a handful of dungeons. Each one provides a unique atmosphere with a fitting soundtrack always tying it all together. The music ranges from haunting melodies to dark atmospheric vibes which adds layers of mystery to the presentation. Overall, the masterful sights and sounds make this one captivating world to get lost in.
You play by controlling the girl to run, jump, attack, and perform special moves in order to move past tricky platforming segments, solve a few simple puzzles, and slay many dangerous foes. She can upward and downward thrust right off the bat which probably makes Link rather jealous. That being said, her short-ranged knife is extremely tough to master. Anyway, if you refuse to follow a guide (like me) then you'll spend the majority of the adventure scratching your head trying to work out what to do or where to go next. Because of this, impatient gamers who find unclear objectives frustrating will likely hate this game with a passion. However, if you enjoy being lost and figuring things out by yourself then every little inch of progress will give you a massive sense of accomplishment. To illustrate this, you may have to find a collection of objects scattered all over the world to give to someone so they can teach you what to say to a creature who's blocking your path that will prompt them to move out of the way, but they speak a foreign language so you have to decipher the phrase using coded symbols. If that doesn't sound fun to you then you should avoid this game at all costs.
As you play Chronicles of Teddy, you'll acquire a wealth of marbles that act as currency. You can use them for temporary boosts such as filling your health meter or an item that allows you to keep playing with half of your health after you run out. Of course, what you'll want to save up for are permanent upgrades that extent your maximum health and increase your attack power, defense, and other certain attributes. Besides spending marbles, there are tons of hidden treasures waiting to be discovered that grant you further upgrades. When nearing the end of the adventure, you'll even uncover a few entirely optional areas that can be quite daunting yet completing them will make you all the more powerful. This system of character growth through secret discoveries is nothing new but for some reason, it's done so well here that it made me spend a few extra hours trying to find everything.
Besides the often convoluted process of figuring out what to do next, a couple of issues frequently get in the way of having a good time. The first of which is that certain enemies can be downright irritating to fight. For example, some enemies only expose their weak spot for a brief moment randomly. Therefore, you're forced to wait, strike after an indeterminate amount of time, then repeat a few more times. Some of the bosses fit this description, too, and that's just plain annoying. By the way, I should mention that a few of the bosses are epic and make for enjoyable encounters. Anyway, many aspects of the journey are completely unintuitive. To illustrate this, you collect words in a dictionary as well as symbols that act like letters. You'd think that you can select the words but you can't. Instead, you have to memorize which symbols to use, go into a different menu, then select them to spell words. Also, some doors require you to memorize symbols that are engraved on walls in the background. There is no system to make note of these, so I used the PlayStation 4's share feature which did the trick nicely. You could write things down, but does anyone even own a pen anymore?
Chronicles of Teddy: Harmony of Exidus is a tough game to widely recommend. If you still find it intriguing after reading this review then you'll probably love every second you spend in its confusing world. However, those who don't have the patience to wander around aimlessly should get their 2D action adventure fix someplace else.
- + Captivating visual style, atmosphere, and melodies craft an immersive world
- + Every bit of progress simply feels awesome
- + Rewarding growth through hidden treasures
- - It's frequently much too convoluted to try and figure out what to do next
- - Battling certain enemies can be very tedious
- - Many unintuitive aspects are a chore